News Archive

  • Friday
    RB_'s "The World Fades to White" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story is quite a cool tale.


    The World Fades to White
    [Adventure] [Sad] • 3,388 words

    Princess Flurry Heart and the descendant of Prince Rutherford brave the harsh conditions of the Frozen North, in search of an artifact they hope will save their home from a similar fate.

    FROM THE CURATORS: One of the subtler skills in writing is how to wring meaning from the things you don't say — a skill on prominent display in this short and focused fic.  "I love how sparse the writing feels, hinting at larger things without ever having to define them, managing to make its diffuse world feel rich and solid," Soge said, and Present Perfect agreed: "This feels like such a tiny slice of a greater epic work. So much is packed into it, and yet so much is left unsaid."

    Read More

    11 comments · 788 views
  • 1 week
    SirTruffles' "Three Left Turns" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story turns out right.


    Three Left Turns
    [Dark] • 2,478 words

    Equestria's last night is nigh. Next evening it will be ash. Twilight slips off with but the past to bargain with. Can she buy a future?

    Read More

    4 comments · 2,025 views
  • 3 weeks
    Petrichord's "Paper Butterflies" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Watch some delicate emotions fold together in today's story.


    Paper Butterflies
    [Sad] [Slice of Life] • 3,756 words

    Discord hasn't been feeling himself lately. Rarity thinks that it might be a good idea to get his mind off of things by having him assist her with upcoming work for the Summer Sun Celebration. Being the good sport that he is, Big Mac helps Discord out.

    As it turns out, the project is surprisingly fun.  It's also more than a little painful.

    Read More

    10 comments · 3,513 views
  • 4 weeks
    MaxKodan's "Dappled Shores" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story warns about the hidden dangers of "shows, don't tell".


    Dappled Shores
    [Romance] [Comedy] [Drama] [Equestria Girls] [Slice of Life] • 4,640 words

    Rarity and Sunset are having their third weekly Dappled Shores marathon.

    And then Sunset ruins everything.

    Read More

    6 comments · 3,881 views
  • 5 weeks
    WishyWish's "Sugarcube in the Corner" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    An unlikely crossover source mashes up with pony in today's story.


    Sugarcube in the Corner
    [Drama] [Sad] [Slice of Life] [Tragedy] • 8,069 words

    Enter Painless — a young resident physician at Manehattan East Side Memorial Hospital who drew the short lot, and ended up working through Hearth's Warming. With the city caught in the grips of a blizzard that weatherponies are still trying to get under control, the night is boring, the decorations contrived, and the coffee is as bitter as his sensibilities.

    Tonight, Painless has a single, pointless task assigned to him — to keep the company of a lonesome, unconscious stallion who is essentially already dead. In so doing, a young doctor will learn that medicine is about more than scalpels and technique.

    It's also about mending broken hearts.

    Read More

    5 comments · 5,349 views
  • 7 weeks
    The Albinocorn's "Firebird Dahlia" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    An explosive sibling rivalry is at the center of today's story.


    Firebird Dahlia
    [Drama] [Slice of Life] • 48,819 words

    Life is looking up for Sunset Shimmer.

    With her grandstanding at the Battle of the Bands, Canterlot High has taken a new approach to her. Amends have been made, friendships have been restored, and Sunset is on the fast track to becoming a better person.

    But even now, there are still apologies that have to be said.

    For her Spring Break, Sunset returns to Equestria to make up with her estranged family: the parents that raised and provided for her, and the sister she left behind. But a lot has changed since then, and some wounds won't heal by just saying 'I'm sorry.'

    Read More

    13 comments · 5,261 views
  • 8 weeks
    forbloodysummer's "Why Are You Here, Your Majesty?" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story is here for a very good reason.


    Why Are You Here, Your Majesty?
    [Drama] • 8,405 words

    Immortals are few and far between in Equestria, and they are all known to each other. Two of them are about to get to know each other a little better. Because one has just turned up uninvited in another’s private chambers. Maybe it’s time they had a chat?

    Read More

    8 comments · 5,671 views
  • 9 weeks
    Rocket Lawn Chair's "Star-Crossed" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story is a tale of love written in the sky.


    Star-Crossed
    [Romance] [Slice of Life] • 2,968 words

    A thousand years ago he was turning Equestria into a hotbed of mayhem.
    Five years ago he was growing moss and lichen on his shoulders.
    Today he's asking Celestia out on a date.

    Celestia didn't know such a creature as Discord would be able to change so radically without it being part of some elaborate prank. But what's more unsettling, she didn't know she'd be able to change just as drastically. As she finds new feelings for the Master of Chaos, she begins to have doubts toward the integrity of her desires, and suspicions of her sister's possible involvement.

    Read More

    0 comments · 5,261 views
  • 11 weeks
    Fiddlebottoms' "Discord's Ant Farm" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    In today's story, take a trip into the future with one of My Little Pony's ant-agonists.


    Discord's Ant Farm
    [Sad] • 2,619 words

    That wacky Spirit of Chaos is at it again...

    Except, there's no ponies in the audience.

    There's nothing, really. Just an empty, post-apocalyptic expanse.

    Nothing, and some ants.

    Read More

    21 comments · 5,780 views
  • 12 weeks
    FrontSevens' "Fun in the Summit" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story is a foray into diplomatic impunity.


    Fun in the Summit
    [Comedy] [Slice of Life] • 7,774 words

    Trade negotiations. Board meetings. Formal garden parties. Not the definition of a fun weekend for Princess Celestia at all.

    However, Celestia has a plan. Rarity’s going to join her this year, and by their gossiping powers combined, they may be able to turn this upcoming convention into something a little more unconventional.

    Read More

    6 comments · 4,423 views
Jul
29th
2017

Author Interview » Tumbleweed's "The Prisoner of Zebra" [Royal Canterlot Library] · 12:33pm July 29th

Today's story will exceed your expectations, whether it wants to or not.


The Prisoner of Zebra

[Adventure] [Comedy] [Romance] • 22,964 words

Flash Sentry: hero, heart breaker ... and self-admitted coward. For the first time, he details his own undeserved rise to heroism (as well as the trouble such a reputation brings him) in his own words.

FROM THE CURATORS: It's no secret where this story traces its roots to, but don't make the mistake of thinking that this is just another rip-off.  "The whole Prisoner of Zenda tribute is excellent. Tumbleweed made the right choice, taking the general idea as a start and then breathing new life into it, making it its own thing," said PresentPerfect.  And Augiedog said, "This is also the perfect crossover 'cause it doesn't assume the reader has any familiarity with George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman books but still captures the essence of those books so well."  And even past its two major inspirations, the story is chock-full of clever allusions, both obvious and obscure.  Chris asked, "Wait, is that a Golden Harvest reference?" while PresentPerfect wondered, "did you catch the Icarus reference?"

There's much more here than "just" a trove of adaptational comedy, though.  Chris said, "the footnotes are full of subtle metahumor and other worthy commentary."  Soge particularly liked the take on a coward protagonist, saying, "Flash fits really well into a "good natured rogue" role, being incompetent and vain, but not really malicious."  PresentPerfect agreed, and also noted how this choice helped tie the story to Equestria: "Flash Sentry makes a perfect womanizing coward (which oddly fits the bare minima that qualify as his canon personality)."

But above all, the selling point here is the comedy mined from the "hero"s reluctance, and that was where we focused much of our appreciation.  PresentPerfect called it "hilarious at every turn."  Soge appreciated the character humor, commenting, "how he contrasts with the far more well adjusted Canterlotian society was really good, as were his thoughts about his position."  And Augie singled out the tone: "what the author does here is perfect, mixing a certain snideness with a large amount of self-awareness and no real desire to change."

Read on for our author interview, in which Tumbleweed discusses floundering woobies, uncaught thieves, and social commentary ninjas.


Give us the standard biography.

Typical midwestern nerd of many fandoms. Occasional adventurer. Fanfiction writer. Fairly boring otherwise.

Started watching the show & writing silly fanfic about it back in 2011. It’s Blueshift’s fault.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

It’s a handle I used on some long, long defunct fan-chat stuff, back when I was a kid. I wound up using it as my Fanfiction.net username … which I then went ahead and started posting Pony fanfic on after letting it lie fallow for several years.

Who's your favorite pony?

Applejack is my favorite pony, but I have to admit Rarity is best pony. Which may be why I write Rarijack.

What's your favorite episode?

Luna Eclipsed. I got into the show midway through Season 1, and then found myself floundering (along with the rest of the fandom) for a couple of months until Season 2 came out.

Back in the early days of the fandom (get off my lawn, kids!) there was a lot of ‘woobie luna’ fic/art/whatever going around, but Luna Eclipsed was the first look at ‘canon’ Luna, and it was fucking metal. I’m not saying I laughed to see so many headcanons come crashing down (hell, it kind of ruined some of my own ideas I had early on), but it was one of those cases where the folks running the show came up with something far more interesting and generally awesome than the fandom zeitgeist at the time.

Plus, who doesn’t love a Halloween special?

What do you get from the show?

Not as much as I used to.

Really, it’s just one of those things where I’ve gotten older, and busier, and so on. When I first really got into Pony (and started writing fanfic), I was teaching ESL abroad — which made English-language entertainment somewhat hard to come by. But I had a speedy internet connection, and YouTube, and there you go. Watching each new episode became something of a highlight each week. Plus, watching the nascent fandom glom onto each new little detail or character from each week’s new episode was fascinating — particularly when the fanon started to influence the canon (Derpy, Lyra/Bon Bon, etc).

I’ve been back in the US for several years now, and with the way life goes, I only really delve into pony cartoons every once in a while. Even still, I’ve always been a fan of quality animation, so I still enjoy the show when I can find time to sit down and watch.

What do you want from life?

To have stories worth telling, and an audience who’d like to hear them.

Good beers help with both of these things, so we’ll throw those in too.

Why do you write?

For fun!

Or, well, ostensibly, writing fanfic is practice for writing original fiction that I could theoretically pitch to a publisher someday — and while I have a few scraps and manuscripts I’m plugging away at, I’ve found I’ve become rather good at writing silly pony stories. Huh.

Still, I’m the first to admit stuff like The Prisoner of Zebra is just a labor of love, because the Venn diagram between “George MacDonald Fraser fans” and “Bronies” has gotta be really, really small.

What advice do you have for the authors out there?

“Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.”

It’s one of those great quotes that’s been attributed to a good half-dozen people, at least. Still, it’s good advice — but one that should be taken with a grain of salt. I’m not saying you should go out and start plagiarizing (far from it, really). Rather, the real key is to put enough of a unique spin on established tropes and such to really make it your own. Be a master thief, the kind of debonair type who doesn’t get caught.

So read. Voraciously.

Humanity has thousands and thousands of years worth of stories — there’s no way any single person can read them all, but you can at least familiarize yourself with their building blocks (‘Tropes,’ as it were) and see them in action. A good writer takes in as many different experiences and as much information as possible in an effort to shake all that up and produce something new, yet familiar.

Read the classics (or at least the Cliff’s Notes). Read a bunch of non-fiction. Watch Jeopardy until you can start answering the questions with a high degree of success. Build a working knowledge of the greater cultural ‘canon’ (Warner Bros. cartoons like Looney Tunes & Animaniacs are surprisingly good for this) and then steal from that stuff as needed.

And, y’know, write a lot of stuff and eventually some of it might not be terrible.

What made you want to turn Flash Sentry into the Pony version of Harry Flashman?

It came down to the name — it was either that or a Flash Gordon riff.

Though really, Flash Sentry, particularly the pony version, is one of those wonderful background characters that has very, very little in the way of characterization, canon or fanon or otherwise. Which, incidentally, is similar to Harry Flashman’s origins — he was a minor character and antagonist of Thomas Hughes’ Tom Brown’s Schooldays, who was in turn developed into a cowardly hero by George MacDonald Fraser. So I guess there’s a similarity there.

I’d had the idea kicking around the back of my head for awhile, and when I ran into a brick wall on some other stuff I’d been working on, I figured ‘oh, what the hell,’ and gave it a go. Plus, the fact that I knew nobody had written a Pony/Flashman mashup, and likely nobody ever would, was really appealing. This was the same kind of reasoning that led me to write a MLP/Chuck Tingle crossover, though that was mostly for an April Fool’s gag.

Once I started writing, the juxtaposition of a Flashman-like cad blundering through magical ponyland was entirely too entertaining, and so there you go.

Did you find it a challenge fitting Flashman’s distinctive voice and outlook into a Pony character?

Not at all! The show is full of pony antagonists who are braggarts, scoundrels, con-men (con ponies?), and so on. It’s one of the things that makes the cartoon so fun to watch, and so ripe for fanfic.

I will admit, however, Sentry is a lot nicer than Harry Flashman — the latter being astoundingly sexist, racist, and probably a couple of other ‘ists’ I’m forgetting. Fraser is well aware of all this, given the Victorian adventure fiction he’s drawing from. So the Flashman novels can get really, really ugly in places (what with all the war and massacres and such), but it’s something Fraser uses as a way to highlight how terrible the ‘Golden Age of the British Empire’ really was.

Given the fact that I’m just writing about magical silly ponies, I steered clear of anything resembling social commentary and threw in some ninjas instead.

How did you approach writing a crossover when it’s likely your readers aren’t familiar with the source material?

To be honest, I wouldn’t use the term ‘crossover’ to describe The Prisoner of Zebra. To me, at least, crossover means the direct, well, crossing-over of characters from one canon to another. Given that two of ol’ Flashy’s most prominent talents are seduction and horsemanship, this would make sticking him into Equestria … well, potentially entertaining, but certainly bizarre. The same can be said for wedging Rainbow Dash into the Crimean War or somesuch, but I digress.

Instead, I see The Prisoner of Zebra not as a crossover, but as a pastiche. And the Flashman novels are in turn are pastiches of Victorian adventure fiction, and we’re getting all metatextual again.

The thing is, the best satires and pastiches work as examples of the very things they’re, uh, pastiche-ing. One can look at Edgar Wright’s ‘Cornetto Trilogy,’ for example. Shawn of the Dead is a silly comedy, yes … but at the same time it touches on all the classic zombie tropes. So, when I was writing The Prisoner of Zebra, I was relying less on the readers knowing who Harry Flashman was, and more being familiar with general comedy & adventure tropes, and enjoying the story for its surface elements.

This got a little amusing when a couple of readers started comparing Sentry to Ciaphas Cain, the cowardly ‘hero’ of a series of Warhammer 40k novels (incidentally, the only 40k novels worth reading) … which are themselves inspired by Flashman. Metatextual as all get out, kids.

Still, it’s pretty heartening to see The Prisoner of Zebra getting a lot more attention than I thought it would, these couple of months later — writing a sequel for Jake The Army Guy’s ‘Obscure Shipping’ contest probably helped a lot.

The Golden Harvest gag was thrown in entirely for my own amusement, though.

Do you have any plans to delve further into Flash Sentry’s papers?

I do! In fact, this interview has inspired me to be halfway productive and get to working on a third volume of the Flash Sentry Papers: Sentry at the Charge.

This one deals with what Flashy & Carrot Top were up to during the events of Where and Back Again (i.e: the Second Changeling Invasion of Canterlot), and the inevitable trouble they get into directly afterward. I’ve got the first chapter or so posted, so go ahead and check it out! It’s gonna be a lot of fun.

And once I get around to finishing that, I have a couple of other vague ideas (read: cheap gags) for a potential fourth installment, again playing around with various background ponies. Or if I got really ambitious, I might have ol’ Flashy trying to figure out the whole ‘human dimension’ business in a potential crossover with my EQG stories. That one would be particularly tricky to get right — I’m probably getting ahead of myself here. I’d better get back to fiddling around with Sentry at the Charge instead.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Thanks for reading my stuff! Hope you all enjoyed it.

You can read The Prisoner of Zebra at FIMFiction.net. Read more interviews right here at the Royal Canterlot Library, or suggest stories for us to feature at our Fimfiction group.

Comments ( 10 )
PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Apologies, again, for the lateness of this week's post.

If it helps, my computer thought it was still Friday today. :/

I admit, I'm one of the ones who drew comparisons to Commissar Cain. I hadn't been aware just how deep the Fake Ultimate Hero hole went.

Still, the Sentry Papers have quickly become one of my favorite recent series on Fimfiction, and I cannot recommend them enough. And I am definitely all for a crossover between it and Tumbleweed's EQG stories.

You had me at the title.

Luna Eclipsed was the first look at ‘canon’ Luna, and it was fucking metal

+1

Dan
Dan #5 · July 29th · · ·

How many people saw one of the many parodies/tributes of Zenda before ever seeing the real thing?

I first saw the version in The Great Race (easily one of the top 10 greatest comedies of all time). Also, the tribute in Hercules the Legendary Journeys.
i.ytimg.com/vi/TSgkoIi4IfE/maxresdefault.jpg
http://hercules-xena.wikia.com/wiki/King_For_A_Day

Can't recommend these stories enough. I didn't even know The Prisoner of Zenda existed until this post!

I really enjoyed this book too! It's always interesting to see a minor character thrust into a role as a main character.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

4616952
The Great Race does have a Zenda tribute, doesn't it? My god...

That movie's great. :D

Zenda? It's the Flashman crossover that has me giggling like a schoolgirl! This immediately got bumped up into the top five of my read-it-sooner list! :pinkiehappy:

Thanks for the rec. Have now read all three stories. Liked and favorited them all.

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